The Double Mother


By Michel Bussi

cover image of The Double Mother

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A school psychologist investigates a four-year-old's claim that he isn't his mother's son in this psychological tale by the author of After the Crash.
Four-year-old Malone Moulin is haunted by nightmares of being handed over to a complete stranger and begins claiming his mother is not his real mother. His teachers at school say that it is all in his imagination as his mother has a birth certificate, photos of him as a child and even the pediatrician confirms Malone is her son. The school psychologist, Vasily, believes otherwise as the child vividly describes an exchange between two women. Vasily begins recording their conversations and reinterprets the creatures Malone uses in the childish tales he recounts to his stuffed toy to piece the story together as much as he can.
Convinced that Malone is telling the truth, Vasile approaches police commander Marianne Augresse with the case, who has been searching for a gang of thieves that robbed a luxury store and left a couple dead in the neighboring town of Deauville to no avail. Not knowing why a child would lie and with perhaps her own maternal and protective instinct kicking in, Marianne takes Vasile's plead for help seriously.
Marianne and her team soon discern that Malone's memory is in the hands of those around him; the cold members of the Moulin family and the people that they associate themselves with. With Malone's recollection of the past quickly fading to give way to pirates, animals and other more innocent thoughts children have at his age, Marianne is desperate to find a through line.
Well-crafted and showcasing the fragility of a child's cognition, The Double Mother is a riveting investigation to follow.
Praise for The Double Mother
"Gripping . . . may set a record for number of plot twists between two covers. . . . A long book that goes quickly, The Double Mother, zestily translated by Sam Taylor, is likely to stay in your mind for years to come, even if you don't have a stuffed animal to coach you." —Washington Post
"Brainy, exciting, and humane." —Kirkus Reviews
"Bussi multiplies the red herrings, tangles the plot strings, plays with illusions and subterfuge. He is the master of the trompe-l'œil novel." —ELLE Magazine
"Bussi is back, with his breathless style, to give us something to chew over." —Le Point
The Double Mother